How do you build a new home but with the soulful character of an older house? That inspiring intention was the cornerstone for a 7,517-square-foot cottage in Cottagewood, where modern-day know-how meets Old World charm. “For this home, we worked together to research products and techniques both new and old,” explains builder Kyle Hunt of Kyle Hunt & Partners.
At the top of the list? Natural materials. Recycled-timber beams, blemishes and all, add an aged sensibility. Stone countertops and sink basins feel organic. And custom metalwork has burnished beauty. “This house combines rustic and refined,” notes architect Jean Rehkamp Larson. “The formal and informal play well together, as they do in old Northern European houses.”
That’s exactly the look owners Bari Kessler and Dave Marantz were after. The couple moved from Minneapolis to Lake Minnetonka in search of a simpler life closer to nature. Kessler, an interior designer with a passion for antiques, was drawn to the idea of a new home with a sense of history — the perfect place for the couple’s three boys and two dogs to feel at ease. “I wanted the house to be a respite from the busy world around us,” she says.
And she found that respite in her favorite room: the cozy family den. With its worn red leather chair, this corner salon has an inspired alchemy of art and antiques. “Everywhere I look in that room makes me feel so happy, because every surface is covered with patterns, textures, colors, and collected art, objects and books that I love,” Kessler effuses.
South Carolina–based interior designer Alecia Stevens worked with Kessler and the team to hone this blend of old and new. She was able to mix in beloved rugs, chairs and paintings, gently layering these pieces room after room for a stylish look that feels lived in and loved.
But keeping track of all the details for a house like this takes supreme coordination. That’s where the Kyle Hunt team shined. The 32-year-old Deephaven company specializes in artisanal homes that stand the test of time, tailoring each house to a client’s specific needs and wants. For this project, Hunt’s job was to assemble a stable of talented artisans, including a stucco pro, plaster painter, metal smith and cabinet maker, all to give the abode an aged look. “The craftspeople involved on this home were so committed to the goals of the owner,” Hunt recounts.
That devotion is evident in the custom cabinetry, where newly built cupboards look like antiques. Crafted by Joe Michalski of Rosemount Woods, the inset wood cabinetry features exposed hinges, cup-shaped drawer pulls and brass name plates — nothing cookie-cutter here. Same goes for the plaster walls, where Otto Painting Design created a special hand-troweled patina.
But above all, this home was created for a family of three boys, which is apparent throughout. Situated outside their bedrooms, a miniature study hall with built-in desks and bookcases serves as a homework hangout. The attic above feels like a treehouse, with a special room just for Legos. Another nook houses the family guinea pigs, while bunk beds set the stage for sleepovers.
In the end, this reimagined cottage provides inspiring spaces for both adults and kids to thrive. It is indeed a new house with an old soul, capturing the nostalgic comforts of home: “This house nurtures those of us who live here and signals to others who we are and what’s important to us,” Kessler concludes.